For much of the season, the Seahawks were the model of stability at cornerback. For the first 12 weeks, in fact, they were the only team in the NFL to use just three players at the position -- Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner as starters and Marcus Trufant as the nickel back.
Since then, however, the Seattle CBs have been in a state of flux, and their depth at the position continues to be tested. When the Seahawks face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Toronto, two players seldom used until last week -- rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year man Byron Maxwell -- are expected to get extensive playing time.
The latest blow came Wednesday, when Walter Thurmond hurt his hamstring in practice. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday after the team's walk-through that Thurmond, who turned in a strong effort in Seattle's 58-0 win over Arizona, will not play against the Bills.
"He wasn't hurt out of the game," Carroll said. "He was hurt chasing a route out here. He didn't get hit or anything. He just took a step and fired up his hamstring."
Thurmond had been the replacement at starter for Browner, who last week began serving his four-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug violation after dropping his appeal.
Compounding matters for the Seahawks is the hamstring injury Trufant suffered in practice two weeks ago. Trufant has barely practiced since, and Friday was also declared out of the Bills game by Carroll.
"He's getting better, getting closer," Carroll said. "We tried him some today. He's not able to get back at this time."
That opens the door for Lane and Maxwell to receive the most significant exposure of their brief NFL careers. One will start at right cornerback and one will be used in nickel packages, though Carroll didn't specify who would fill those roles. But the Hawks are thankful that both players got extended playing time last week late in the rout of Arizona.
"They did really well," Carroll said. "They both looked disciplined; they played confident. Technique-wise, they played the way we had hoped they would play. For their first outing, they handled it really well."
Maxwell was a sixth-round pick out of Clemson in the 2011 draft. Lane was a sixth-rounder this year out of Northwestern State in Louisiana.
"Last week was fun, my first time going out with the one 'D,' " Lane said. "Everything was moving pretty fast, but I hung in there."
• Sidney Rice, who bruised his foot Sunday and was in a walking boot Wednesday, is listed as probable for the Bills game, and Carroll said he'll play.
• Red Bryant (foot) and Kam Chancellor (groin) were also listed as probable, and Carroll said "they both are ready to go."